Monday, April 9, 2012

A shift.....

Saturday morning started off cold (of course) and my car outside thermometer read 29 degrees..... the day promised to be 60 and breezy, but at 7 Am it was still quite cold! Nikki was happy to see me and readily accepted a peppermint. The barn was about to be fed, so I gave her a few handfuls to make her happy before our ride. This is our typical weekend routine, but it is difficult when everyone else is eating breakfast. The dentist didn't come last week as expected so during the brief lunging Nikki was tilting her head into the bit. Once I saw that she was not in a leaping mood (in spite of the cold)I quickly mounted and set to work. She was soft in my hand and willing to work. My happy, talented girl gave me a lovely ride. We worked on spiraling in and out on a 20 meter circle, and a bunch of trot/canter and canter trot transitions, thowing in ground poles on occasion. Super ride. I have noticed a delicate shift in the way I respond to the most common question about Suki: "So do you think you will ever ride Suki again?" Early on I focused on Suki's survival. My main concern was that she would be happy, healthy and comfortable. The veterinarians told me during Suki's first precarious days at New Bolton, that it there was a good chance that I would never ride again....My decision to try to save her life was not based on a future of riding. I just wanted my beloved girl to live. Suki's health and well being were essential and I did not look beyond that. Even once I knew that she would survive, I realized that due to the extent of her injuries there was little chance that she would be able to carry a saddle and rider. And who knew if she would even be sound! Because the burn on her back right where the saddle would sit was so reluctant to heal after a year, I didn't even consider the possibility of sitting on her. At one point I thought we would be bandaging it forever! Even after the skin graft, as we roller-coasted through healing, I just hoped that the wound would close and we could eliminate bandaging. THEN, when it finally healed I started to think of possibilities beyond lunging....what about long lining with a surcingle and side reins? But with friction and movement from the saddle pad and surcingle I was still unsure. But the thought of working Suki in hand through the upper level movements excited me! And I knew that she would enjoy it. That became my new goal. So the shift in thinking occurred almost unconsciously....The answer to the riding question suddenly morphed into "Well, who knows? If she holds up to the surcingle and a regular work schedule, you never know.....I may sit on her again." When I wtach her move at liberty or on the end of the lunge line I see a sound, fluid horse and remember what it was like to feel those gaits. On Sunday evening Suki and I met Cheryl and Larry, who live locally. The night of the Pink Star fire they could see the flames from their house and went out to see what was going on. When they saw that it was the farm, and heard that there were horses missing, they began to drive around. Horse owners themselves, they were concerned about the missing horses. At one point Suki and Whisby ran in front of their truck, forcing them to slam on their brakes. They could see that the horses were frightened, but lost track of them as they ran into a nearby field. Cheryl had tears in her eyes as she recounted this story....I can only imagine what the scene must have been like. They caught up with others who were also out searching, and finally another group followed the horses into the field. In the following days Cheryl and Larry wondered about the two horses, and eventually stumbled upon a forum where I had posted about Suki's survival. Meeting them last night wa so wonderful! Such caring, kind people. Cheryl was a bit overwhelmed by Suki's size initially, but a few nuzzles by Suki and like everyone else you forget just how big she is. Suki flirted and begged, clearly knowing that this visit was all about her! Cheryl and Larry brought gummies and peppermints, which Suki graciously accepted. They were amazed at how wonderful she looks and thrilled to meet her in person, after she crossed their path on that tragic evening. And so, the question came: "Do you think you will ever ride Suki again?" This time, and for the first time since the fire I answered without hesitation: "Yes", I said. "I will. Maybe not in competition, but I will sit on her again." So Iahve put it out there. And now, I truly believe it in my heart.